Navy veteran, 91, honoured with Russian medal

Albert Arthur Wallace MacCallaugh from Scarborough pictured with his Russian Convoy Medal'PA1534-3a
Albert Arthur Wallace MacCallaugh from Scarborough pictured with his Russian Convoy Medal'PA1534-3a

A Scarborough-born navy veteran has received the Ushakov medal for his service during the Arctic Convoys in the Second World War.

Albert Arthur Wallace MacCallaugh, known to most people as “Mac”, has been given the honour by the Russian Embassy at the age of 91.

Mr MacCallaugh, of Beechville Avenue, was notified of the presentation by a call from Downing Street.

He then received the medal in the post last week along with a letter from the Russian Ambassador thanking him for his contribution to the war effort.

The Arctic convoys were oceangoing convoys which sailed from the United Kingdom, Iceland, and North America to northern ports in the Soviet Union - primarily Arkhangelsk (Archangel) and Murmansk, both in modern-day Russia.

Mr MacCallaugh was working as a bricklayer in Scarborough before he joined the merchant navy.

He started out as a cabin boy and finished up as second steward, responsible for ordering items for the stores when the ship came into port.

Mr MacCallaugh served on board a number of ships, including a Whitby vessel which he was on board for a year.

He joined two new tankers in Middlesbrough during the war and spent six months in the Atlantic refuelling American ships from a British vessel.

He said: “We used to go to Abadan in the Persian Gulf and we went to the invasion of Sicily. It took me all over the world.”

Mr MacCallaugh said at the time of the Arctic convoys the Russians were “on their knees”.

At the time he was just 18 years old and was on a ship called the Empire Stalwart as second steward.

One of his other duties was to man the oerlikon gun on the ship is the alarm bells went off.

Mr MacCallaugh explained: “A lot of the earlier convoys had been bombed. We didn’t think anything of it at the time. We were doing a job and we just got on with it.”

In May 1945 he was on board a ship that had been to Canada and was loaded with grain and on its way to Avonmouth.

However, orders changed and the ship was sent to Hamburg, making it the first British ship into Hamburg at the end of the war.

Mr MacCallaugh said: “We found that Hamburg was devastated and the Germans were starving.”

He returned home and was discharged from war service, securing a job as a bricklayer with his former employer.

Mr MacCallaugh went on to work as a site agent for a Huddersfield firm and later became a clerk of works in the architects’ department at Scarborough Town Hall, where he stayed for 20 years until his retirement.